St. Louis Public Radio News
7:43 am
Wed May 13, 2009

Lawmakers still looking for health care compromise

Jefferson City, MO – Missouri lawmakers will try again to reach a compromise on health care expansion after the state House Tuesday night passed a plan that differs greatly from the one sought by Gov. Jay Nixon and the state Senate.

Senators and the governor want to cover about 35,000 working parents without health insurance by raising the income eligibility limit to 50 percent of the poverty line. The Senate wants to create a new program, the governor wants to expand Medicaid.

The House proposal covers instead about 20,000 Missourians who have been deemed uninsurable. "These are people who through no fault of their own, they have health conditions that prevent them from getting insurance, or the insurance is so high that they can't afford it they've got pre-existing conditions, they've exhausted their coverage," said Representative Kevin Wilson, a Republican from Neosho. But Columbia Democrat Mary Still countered that the Republican plan will drain the state's high-risk insurance pool.

"At the very time we are making progress, let's not in the state of Missouri, pardon the pun, put a black snake in the transformer and shut out the lights on health care in Missouri," Still said, referring to a snake-induced power outage that plagued the Capitol for about an hour Wednesday.

Lawmakers have until 6 pm Friday to reach a compromise.